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Tip: Back Up Your Data

Beep, Beep, Beep... Back Up! Back Up! Back Up! :-) It is not a matter of if you will have a Hard Drive failure but a matter of when. Hard Drives like every machine is man made and therefore will eventually fail. The only way to insure you data, your pictures, your movies, your tax returns, your letters to grandma or to the grandchildren are safe for future viewing is to back them up onto another HD or another storage device. Hard Drives are generally inexpensive particularly in comparison to the cost of retrieving or recreating lost data. When it comes to a buying a Back Up Hard Drive get the biggest but least expensive drive you can get. Buy a reliable brand, but you don't need a speed demon.

Backup Hard Drives do not need to be fast to do their job. Using the Time Machine application built into every Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6 computer frees you from having to remember to backup, as it does it for you in the background every hour. My general rule of thumb for backup drive capacity is 2 times the size of your computers startup drive. Therefore if you have a 500 GB HD in your computer buy at least a 1 TB back up HD.

The DOs and DON'Ts of Backup Hard Drives:


  • Buy the largest drive you can afford.
  • Make sure it is at least 2 times the size of your computer's HD.
  • Make sure it is a reliable brand.
  • Feel free to use it to store other files. (See Using Backup HD to Store Files)


  • Pay extra for a FAST Hard Drive.
  • Partition the Hard Drive.
  • Put in the drawer and not use it.
  • Buy a HD that is built from 2 HDs that are striped together. (ie. LaCie Big Disk series)

Using Backup HD to Store Files

It is fine to use your Backup HD in order to store files you want to keep, that you don't want cluttering up you computer's internal HD. However, the thing to remember is if you remove the file from your computer's internal HD then the file is NOT backed up. The only way a file can be considered backed up is if it exists on 2 HDs at the same time. Basically "Don't keep all your eggs in one basket". Your backup Hard Drive is just as likely to fail as your computer's internal HD. Remember it is not a matter of if but when a failure will occur.

What Type of Hard Drive to Buy.

Big!, Reliable, Inexpensive.

Avoid Hard Drives like the LaCie Big Disk Series or others like it. These Hard Drive use 2 HDs put into One case and Striped together to make it appear as One Large HD. The reason these are not good as backup HDs is you now have twice the chance of mechanical failure as you have 2 full HD mechanisms that are required to be fully functional in order for you data to be safe. If one drive dies, all you data is gone, because half of the bits that make up that data file is stored on the now dead drive. This type of setup is called a Striped RAID. There are drives out there that use the Concatenated method but that is a whole other story. Basically avoid any drive that uses more than 1 mechanism.

If you have any questions about backing up, please contact me.


Contact Me

Contact Me

Joe Simenstad
Phone (Brainerd Lakes Area): 218-656-0035
Phone (Metro): 952-200-3262
Pequot Lakes, Minnesota 56472
Email: iCanHelpYourMac@me.com
URL: http://www.iCanHelpYourMac.com

I am available for a free phone consultation prior to any work commitment or cost to you. Please contact me via phone or email in order to hire me or to inquire about my services.

iCanHelp! provides Apple Macintosh technical support and Mac Repair in the Brainerd Lakes and surrounding areas in Central Minnesota. (MN). iCanHelp!'s service area includes but is not limited to Brainerd MN 56401, Baxter MN 56425, Pequot Lakes MN 56472, Breezy Point MN 56472, Nisswa MN 56468, Pine River MN 56456, Jenkins MN 56456.

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